Gharyan - Libya
Year of completion
Gross floor area
MEP/ Structural Engineer
Troglodytes represent a dug out underground dwelling which man used for living. Taking its origins from Greek language where troglodyte represents cave dweller, the troglodytes are a type of dwellings found in a group of desert villages spread around North Africa, with Libya (Gharyan), as the principal example. There are villages of this kind also in Morocco and Tunisia.
Troglodytes are vertically dug, underground made caves. The porous ground represents the essential basis for making such a dwelling. The main motivation to build underground houses instead of normal over-ground houses is warm climate through summer where normal ventilation and isolation does not manage to keep the heat out. Even in winter, the troglodytes proved its value as they isolate against the freezing winter nights of the desert, and to some extent they were used as a protection against the robbers.
In history there have been only rare examples of corridors between the troglodytes, and only the few examples of this have been between the same owner troglodytes.
Dating not more than 7- 800 years back in time, troglodytes are believed to be a relatively recent invention in Saharan architecture. Even thou the structure proved to be success, the use of it is not widely spread, mainly because normal houses are easier to build, and there is only a limited number of days where such houses do not protect against heat or cold.
Today most of these troglodyte villages are facing changing attitudes towards to village dwellers, and more and more the troglodytes are replaced with modern houses which sometimes have air conditioning and constant heating.